Dorset Council: May 2024

A short “summary” of the Questions

We have asked candidates of Bridport Ward to share their thoughts on 5 questions regarding the environment.  Their full responses can be found here, but as the answers were often long here is a taster of the responses.

Question 2:     Councils are allowed to require building standards that exceed the national standard.  Should Dorset do so as many developments (Foundry Lea in Bridport) will be substandard before they are complete?  Can you think of a strategy that would keep us from signing contracts with standards that will become obsolete in the very near future?

Kelvin Clayton answered:   Yes, in theory Dorset Council can require building standards for new builds to be in excess of the national standards, but in practice this is very difficult bring about. The main issue here is that in effect the planning system in this country puts too much power in the hands of the developer, particularly with regard to ‘viability’. If the developer can put an argument together that demonstrates that they would not make sufficient profit by building to these standards the chances are that they would win. The impetus to bring about change in this, and many other planning issues, needs to come from Westminster.

Question 3:        The government has made onshore wind development almost impossible since 2015 (though the department in charge says that the UK has quadrupled generation since 2010.  Both statements are true).  What can the council do to encourage this lowest-cost energy source?

Dave Bolwell answered:   Lobby Government to change its policy, they are the ones blocking it!

I am predisposed to the use of Solar Power and, as Chair of Planning for Bridport plus being on the South and West Planning Committee and also the Strategic Planning Committee for Dorset Council, I have deliberated over many applications. Most I have been in favour of, some I have not. I am predisposed to the mixing of Wind and Solar generation where physically possible. The most suitable sites are those close to a National Grid connection point that has suitable infrastructure and capacity to take the power generated. So sites need to be carefully chosen until technology or infrastructure improves. Until then there has to be some control via the Planning Process.

We also have the issue of the required Battery Storage required to store the power from Solar and Wind generation short term for when it is needed. Battery Storage is in it’s infancy and there are many issues, not least in terms of mining the materials necessary but also concerns over the safety of the installations themselves.

There are many interesting articles on the dangers of use of Battery Storage, please see the following links.

Tesla ‘big battery’ fire fuels concerns over lithium risks (ft.com)

We have a long way to go in resolving just the issues I have mentioned above. The question is simple but the answers are complex.

Question 4:         Should planning disallow development that overreaches the capacity of the current sewage system (or require the developer to build new sewage capacity)?  Do you feel our nationally dictated housing allocations are sensible?  Should councils have more say on how these numbers are derived?

Bridget Bolwell answered:  As it stands, a Water Company only has to provide a sewer connection point. It can carry out hydraulic modeling and capacity calculations to check that the proposed development can be catered for in it’s current system. Local Councils are responsible for surface water drainage, Water companies for the sewage, so it is important to realise that a lot of surface water is introduced into the sewers due to out dated infrastructure and poor planning. New developments should not add surface water into sewers. The question of who should provide infrastructure to cope with additional sewage is easily answered:

Supplementary guidance: drainage and wastewater management plans for storm overflows – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

As to where the funds for this currently comes from-eventually it falls to the Bill payer. As to whether a Developer should pay towards or even the full cost of capacity improvements then this is not within the power or remit of local Councils or Councillors to implement. Lobby your local MP and Government.

  1.  No, I don’t believe the targets are sensible, they do not take into account regional or even local variations of need and type of housing or geographical issues such as proximity to employment or transport opportunities. That said there have to be some targets but the calculation method needs to be overhauled.
  2. Yes

Question 5:  Which step comes first in reducing our transport emissions?

a) siting EV points across the county. b) reviewing options for travelling less with frequent reminders (including improving our zoom capabilities) c) having a flat rate for bus travel (ie £1 for any journey) d) council cars are replaced (when they are due be retired) with modest electric cars

Julian Jones answered:  These 4 options are not really the decisive measures.   We need to radically raise the cost of private car use including parking while expanding bus and rail capacity (incl. railfreight), improving cycle and walking environments, cutting the need to travel by better planning of urban centres.  Replacing 35 million fossil fuelled vehicles by the same number of electric vehicles could actually do more harm than good overall.

Note:    There are 10 people running for 3 council seats in Bridport Ward.  4 or those candidates chose not to have their addresses made available, so we were unable to approach them.  Out of the remaining 6, four councilors responded.

Here is the list provided by Dorset Council: